Rachel Jessie Van Vechten Vedder

From the History of the Valley of the Hudson, River of Destiny, 1609-1930, Volume V, Biographical. Contributed by Jerry Sterrit and transcribed by Arlene Goodwin


Mrs. Rachel Jessie (Van Vechten) Vedder, historian of the town and village of Catskill and also for Greene county, has always lived in this part of the state and in both the paternal and maternal lines represents old and honored families of New York. Born in Leeds, Greene County, New York, September 29, 1859, she is a daughter of Luke Kiersted and Nancy (Strong) Van Vechten, the former a native of Catskill, born August 24, 1817, and the latter of Durham, Greene County, New York, born July 17, 1818. They were married February 22, 1848, and Mrs. Nancy Van Vechten died January 20, 1903. The Van Vechtens were originally from Vechte, near Utrecht, Holland, and the genealogy of the family in that country dates back to the year 1200. Dirck Van Veghten, the American progenitor of the family, came to what was then Greenbush, New York, in 1638 in the ship “Arms of Norway” with his wife, child and two servants.  He was the father of Dirck Teunis Van Veghten, who served as a captain with the colonial forces in 1686 and 1689. He and his two sons, Johannes and Teunis Jr., were at Skenesborough. Teunis became a captain in 1702 and in 1713 his commission was renewed. Another Teunis fought in the French and Indian war of 1746, serving as first lieutenant of his company.  Samuel Van Vechten, the great-grandfather of Mrs. Vedder, was commissioned captain by Cadwallander Colden in 1770. He was at Ticonderoga and Fort Edward and was the bearer of important dispatches. Mrs. Vedder’s mother came of Scotch-English ancestry and was of royal lineage on both sides of the family.  She was descended from Richard Strong, also known as Strahn and Mc Strahn, whose son John, born in 1605, sailed to America in the ship “Mary and John” in 1630, and was one of the founders of the town of Dorchester, Massachusetts.  Thomas Strong, son of John and Abigail (Ford) Strong, was born in 1631 and in 1658 was a trooper at Windsor, Connecticut. His grandson, Eliakim Strong, became a lieutenant and his son, Eliakim Strong, Jr., was also a lieutenant of Durham, Connecticut, whence they removed to Durham, Greene County, New York, in 1793.  Selah, a son of Eliakim Strong, Jr., was a soldier in the Revolutionary war.

R. Jessie Van Vechten pursued her education in the common schools and in Catskill Academy and has always resided in the vicinity of Leeds.  On the 10th of January, 1884, she was married at Catskill to Henry Fiero Vedder, a native of Leeds, New York. He was the son of Henry Mosier and Rachel (Martin) Vedder and a descendant of Aaron Vedder, of Schoharie, New York. Fraternally Henry F. Vedder was identified with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He passed away November 12, 1915, leaving a widow and two children.  Henry Martin, who married Mary Florence Blakelock and resides in Leeds; and Mabel Nancy, now Mrs. Stewart W. Parks, of South Leeds.

Mrs. Vedder has long been a faithful member of the Dutch Reformed Church and figures prominently in political circles of this part of the state as republican committeewoman in the district No. 7, town of Catskill. Ion 1926 she organized On-ti-ora Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, of which she is now the regent, and on the 7th of February 1929, she aided in forming and incorporating the Greene County Historical Society. She has been historian for the town and village of Catskill since 1919 and historian for Greene County since 1922, through appointment by the board of supervisors, discharging her duties with thoroughness and ability.  A lifelong resident of Greene county, Mrs. Vedder is well informed upon matters pertaining to its history and has inherited the fine qualities of a long line of worthy ancestors adding thereto the interest of her own personality.


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